Despite Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton's longtime stated opposition to "the politics of personal destruction," one of her top advisers has attacked the personal life of Republican presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani.
Though this may be the first such high-profile attack on the personal life of a presidential hopeful launched in this highly competitive election season, the New York senator notably refused to distance herself from the comments.
The attack came in an interview on NY1, when former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, a top Clinton presidential campaign adviser, laughed when an interviewer discussed the prospect of Giuliani as the GOP presidential nominee.
Asked what was so funny, Vilsack replied, "There's a lot that the rest of the country's going to get to know about Mayor Giuliani that the folks in New York City know, but the rest of the nation doesn't know."
"I can't even get into the number of marriages, and the fact his children — the relationship that he has with his children, and what the kind of circumstance New York was in before September the 11th, and whether or not he could have even been re-elected as mayor prior to September the 11th," Vilsack said. "There are lots of issues involving Mayor Giuliani and I'm sure if he becomes the nominee we'll be able to see those."
Giuliani campaign spokeswoman Maria Comella said, "It's not surprising the Clinton campaign is going negative and personal so early. The fact is the rest of the country is getting to know what New Yorkers already do: Rudy Giuliani tackled the impossible and turned around the 'ungovernable' city — cutting taxes, reducing crime and moving people off welfare and into work."
At a candidates' forum earlier this year, Clinton said she wants to "run a very positive campaign. And I sure don't want Democrats or the supporters of Democrats to be engaging in the politics of personal destruction. I think we should stay focused on what we're going to do for America."
On Radio Iowa today, Clinton was asked about the Vilsack interview Thursday when she said she was focusing on a positive agenda.
"Have you told Gov. Vilsack privately that you don't appreciate his negative comments that were made in New York on that television station yesterday in regards to Mr. Giuliani?" the station's news director asked.
Instead of distancing herself from the remarks, Clinton replied that Vilsack "is more than capable of speaking for himself."